Not too long ago I was searching around the Internet for the text of MindSpring’s Core Values and Beliefs. If you do that and include the guy, Charles Brewer, who wrote them in the search string you are sure to come across an article by Kyle Porter. Charles Brewer & the CV&B’s, which to be frank I found somewhat shocking. Some guy, whom I happen to know, who was most likely in elementary school when Charles wrote the CV&B’s, extolling their virtues and asking everyone to read a speech cause it was so enlightening it gave him chills.
And I am sharing the text of the speech as Kyle requested.
If you take the time to read the speech you may find it worthwhile. As someone who was there and heard this stuff and preached this stuff I have a unique perspective. An insider view. And I am going to tell you the most important sentence in the entire doc is on page four. It is a single word.
That is really it.
To quote from the original MindSpring business plan:
One other factor we need to mention is not exactly a core value or belief, but is a necessary ingredient for our leadership philosophy to be effective. That final all important ingredient is authenticity. If the leaders of the company do not practice what they preach, and if they do not truly in their hearts believe those things which they profess to be important, they will be ineffective. The Core Values and Beliefs will ring hollow, and will become an object of ridicule rather than a source of guidance and motivation. People have incredibly accurate bullshit meters. A false attempt at values based leadership is doomed to horrible failure.
Implementing a core values approach to business requires three things. Communicating the values, selecting people who share the values, and building the values into the structure of the organization. This requires authentic managment commitment. And that comes from the CEO.
And implementing a core values management approach starts at the beginning of a venture. And that comes from the CEO as well. Charles actually came up with the CV&B’s before he started MindSpring. He just happened to stumble across the concept of offering Internet service when he had an issue getting online to research business concepts to apply the CV&B’s.
To lead with values you have to start early and and you have to be authentic. You can build a nice company without those things. You just can’t expect it to be purposefully values based and the end result most likely is a culture that was not intended.